Cameras, Kisses, and Sweet Dance Lessons
Neil Baczynsky made his way down the empty halls of P.A., his camera in hand. Even though no one was in the halls, and there wasn't really much to record, a director could never have enough practice. Besides, things happened when you didn't expect them too.
Class was out, but things happened in the halls of P.A. even after class. That was usually because students were always there after school, practicing monologues, learning the words to a new song, or even perfecting their dance skills. And Neil? Neil just liked to walk around and wait for something to happen. Great directors were always there when something happened.
He turned his camera on the uninteresting lockers, as if he expected something to pop out and make the afternoon filming day more interesting. But nothing occurred.
Neil groaned inwardly. It was a slow day, nothing really all that exciting happened. But, he was a director. He forced himself to be patient.
He went on, tearing his camera away from the lockers and moved further down the hall. Neil passed the door of an acting class, where a group of freshman actors were all practicing monologues and critiquing each other on their performances.
Neil scoffed. Freshman nearly always practiced and stressed out more than anyone. Mostly because it was their first year, and they had a lot to prove. More than anyone else, at least. Thank goodness he was a sophomore, at least.
He kept moving, wandering down a staircase. His camera swiveled around the empty stairway, as if looking for a star, someone or something to record. But, that was difficult when there wasn't any other person in the hall besides himself and his camera.
Neil smoothly made his way down the final few steps and suddenly, a sound that wasn't all that foreign to students at P.A. met his ears: Music. But, there was something about this music that drew Neil into the hallway, looking around for the room where the sound was coming from.
Finally, something to record. He moved along the hall and the music grew louder. It was an upbeat, hip-hop song, a song meant to move anyone into dancing.
He kept twisting his camera around the vacant corridors, searching for the source of the sound that brought life to the dead hallways.
After crossing nearly every classroom, with the music only getting louder and louder, Neil finally came across the room where the sweet sound of music was emitting from. He turned to look at the last classroom in the hall on the left side. It was one of the many dance studios around the school where the many dancers practiced and learned new dancing techniques. Yes, the music was definetly coming from this room.
Neil peeked inside the room, interested in seeing the dancers inside the room. Because, as Neil had learn, with all music comes a dancer. His inner director triggered his curiosity and got the best of him: Neil peeped in the room, but he was surprised at what he saw.
He only saw a sole performer, dancing in the center of the room. It was a girl. She looked to be in Neil's year, in fact, he was nearly certain that he had seen her, probably in the halls of P.A., more than once. She looked to be of Hispanic origin; she had long, dark hair that flowed down her back and fell in her face as she moved, but it didn't pass her waist. She had a dancer's build, but she was different from most of the female dancers he had seen around the school. Most of the girls who danced all had small bodies and almost no muscle; even some seniors who were dancers looked like they were about twelve years old. But, this girl was more muscular and had more curves than the majority.
Neil turned his camera to face her. She seemed to move well with the music, almost like she was getting lost in the thumping hip-hop beat. Her hips moved side to side with the music; her arms moving in time with the rest of her body, helping her dancing look all the better. She was so lost in the music and her dancing, in fact, that she didn't even notice Neil opening the door and coming into the room, his camera in hand.
When he came inside the room, he moved toward the nearest corner. He had learned that the best footage was usually taken with either really good actors, or when someone didn't exactly know you were filming them.
He had filmed a lot of dancers in his high school directing career, but he'd never quite filmed a dancer like this girl. Her body seemed to move in perfect rhythm with the song, and the way she danced made the dance look easy, which was the secret of any great dancer. She glided across the rooms, her steps seeming like they came easily to her.
The girl also seemed to be pleased with what she was doing, too, which is how every artist should feel about their craft. She seemed to generally enjoy the sensation of moving to the pace of the stirring music; her face draped with an almost intoxicated expression.
Neil kept his camera on the mysterious girl. Finally, after one boring afternoon, his camera had found a star, something interesting and attention grabbing to film. And Neil's camera wasn't the only thing that couldn't seem to stop watching her; Neil found it hard to look away from the dancer, moving so gracefully and simply to the moving beat.
His camera followed her around the room, eagerly anticipated every move she made. The dancer was still ignorant to the fact that Neil stood in a corner, recording her with his camera.
After the seemingly endless song finally began to fade, its beat growing fainter and fainter, the girl's dancing seemed to lighten, too. Soon, she came to a complete stop when the song had ended. Neil slowly closed his camera and turned it off, his eyes still on the girl.
She stood there, in the center of the room, breathing heavily. Sweat trickled down her brow and the side of her face. The shirt she wore was nearly all drenched in sweat around the lower arms and the girl's neck. But the pair of stretchy dance shorts that went up to her knees she wore seemed untouched by sweat.
After the girl seemed to regain her breath, Neil couldn't seem to stand the now eerie silence that swallowed the room after the music ended. So, he did something either really brave, or really stupid: He made himself noticed, by clapping his hands together, almost like an individual applause for the dancer.
The girl whipped around to face the sound of Neil's clapping, her hair flying around her face as she turned. Her eyes found Neil, stepping out of the corner of the room, clapping his hands. They seemed like two giant orbs, wide with shock.
Suddenly, she spoke. "How long have you been there?"
Neil grinned shyly, but responded, "Long enough." When she didn't respond, but only stood there, watching him carefully, he added, "That… was a great dance. You did a really wonderful job."
The girl still look at him suspiciously, not trusting his praise, like she suspected him to tease her or something. "Um… thanks," she said, her shoulders suddenly softening. "I think," she added as an afterthought.
Neil laughed a little and reassured her, "No, really, I meant that. Believe me, if your dancing skills weren't good, I'd probably be the first to tell you. You know… besides Ms. Kraft." He was abruptly taken over by awkwardness, unsure of what to do next. He extended his hand to shake, feeling like a total retard. "I'm Neil Baczynsky."
She looked at his hand cautiously before taking it in her own and shaking it. "Rosie Martinez."
They just kind of stood there, clumsily shaking hands, before Rosie let go of his hand. Then, suddenly, her name fully registered in Neil's brain and he remembered why she looked like he had seen her around before.
"Wait a second, Rosie Martinez… from Mr. Dowd's acting class?"
Rosie nodded. "And… you're Neil. The one in Mr. Dowd's class with the camera, who likes to record stuff, right?"
Neil pulled out his camera from where he had put it in his pocket. "Guilty is charged," he said sheepishly, putting it back.
"That's why you looked familiar!" she said, a triumphant look on her face.
He just stood there, suddenly feeling kind of uncomfortable. "Yeah… I like film-making. Hoping to be a director someday."
Rosie nodded, remembering this new information. "So, Neil, what are you even doing here?" she asked, making her way over to the other side of the studio where her dance bag lay on the floor, a water bottle next to it. She reached down for the bottle and drank from it as if she had been stuck in the Sahara Desert without anything to drink for a day.
Neil merely shrugged. "I was just kind of walking around…," he looked down at his feet for a second, "and I just followed the music, really."
She bobbed her head in understanding as she drained her bottle of the last few drops, then set it back down next to her bag.
"So…," he began, "what about you? What do you like to do, you know, besides acting." He paused for a second, pondering the wording of his next statement before he bluntly said, "I can see you also like dancing."
Rosie seemed to smile fairly from where she stood. "Yeah, I'm good at hip-hop dancing. I love it, too."
Neil scrunched his eyebrows together, interested. "What about ballet and other stuff? Do you only dance hip-hop?"
Rosie crumpled up her nose in distaste. "I'm not really that big of a ballet fan."
He looked at her, partially confused. "But… you're a dancer, right?"
She simply nodded and shrugged. "Yeah, but… I don't really like ballet. A dancer doesn't have to like every kind of dancing style, and ballet is just not my style. Honestly, it's just too strict for me," she said, the more she talked, the more heated her discussion became, "there are too many rules and restrictions… plus, I feel so out of place. I mean… I'm surrounded by girls that are so different from me: They're mostly all skinny little girls with no butts, and so little body fat that they'll never be able to partner correctly. It's just sad, really."
"Wow," was all Neil could say after she was done, looking up at her fiery brown eyes. "You seem to feel strongly about this."
"Yeah, well," Rosie went on, "Ms. Kraft expects me to learn to be a great ballet dancer, but…," she sighed, like she felt the world on her shoulders, weighing her down, "my heart's just not in that kind of dancing." She turned to Neil and looked at him, her head cocked to the side, like she was wondering or thinking. "What about you?" she said. "Do you dance?"
Neil hurriedly looked up and shook his head like a madman. "Oh, no, I-I don't dance."
Rosie grinned at him and walked slightly forward. "Really? Not even a little?"
He shook his head harder, almost certain it would fall off. "No, I can't really dance, so--"
"You can't dance, or you won't dance?" Rosie asked, still walking forward.
"No, no, no, I mean I can't dance," Neil stammered, feeling self-conscious. "It's… kind of… not in my nature--"
Rosie smiled at him, now standing directly across from him, crossing her arms stubbornly. "Then show me."
"What?" Neil asked, feeling even more uncomfortable by the second.
"Come on," she said, pressing further. She wasn't the type to back down easily. "Show me some dancing."
Neil began to blabber, feeling panic rise inside of him. "B-But, I just said I couldn't dance--"
"You didn't prove it, though," Rosie said, grinning smugly, her arms not moving from their position, crossed across her chest.
"But, I won't know what to do!" Neil exclaimed, feeling his face burn at his own stupidity.
Rosie ignored him momentarily and turned around, headed back towards her bag. Neil hadn't seen it until now, but next to her dance bag sat a stereo. Rosie pressed the power button, turning it on, then clicked the play button with one swift movement of her hand.
She walked back to face Neil and grabbed his hand, dragging him to the center of the room. Neil face burned an even brighter shade of red as music began to play.
"Then I'll show you," she said over the starting music. The beat of this song was nearly the same as the last, except this song didn't move quite as quickly. It was still a moving hip-hop song that could make even the lousiest dancer dance. "Let's start with something simple that only has a few steps."
Neil attempted to plead his way out of this. "B-But I really don't--"
"Shush!" Rosie said harshly, but then smiled. "You're going to dance whether you like it or not."
She took his hand and placed it on her waist. Then she secured his other hand into her own.
"You can dance almost anything with hip-hop music," she stated, placing the hand that wasn't in Neil's on his shoulder.
He just kind of stood there, waiting for further instructions and getting ready to make a complete idiot of himself.
"Ready?" Rosie said, grinning because she already knew the answer.
"No," he said, wanting to retreat immediately.
"Good," she said, not letting go of his hand or looking like she would tolerate him giving up. "Now, we'll start off with simple steps. One, two three, four…." Rosie repeated this, keeping time with their steps.
She lifted her left foot to bring it forward, so Neil could bring his back. But, too bad Neil wasn't lying when he said he couldn't dance. Instead of moving his foot back, he brought it forward, only to step on Rosie's.
Rosie bit back a yelp, abruptly removing her foot from under his.
"Sorry," he muttered, embarrassed at his mistake.
"It's ok," she said, a grin taking over her face again. "Let's try this again."
She brought her left foot forward again, and this time Neil moved his back. But when she brought her right foot back, he did the exact opposite of what he was supposed to do and brought his right foot back.
"No, you have to bring yours forward--"
"Oh, sorry, I-I--" Neil kept stammering and quickly tried to fix his error, bringing his foot rapidly forward. Rosie barely had time to blink as Neil foot landed on top of her right foot, stepping on her toes for the second time.
"Ow!" she exclaimed, feeling relieved when he moved his foot from her's.
"Oh, I didn't mean too, um--" Neil's face was a bright shade of crimson as he blushed deeper and deeper.
"It's alright. Really," Rosie said, grinning slightly at him, the throbbing pain in her toes now almost completely gone. "Wow, you sure we're kidding when you said you couldn't dance…."
"Great!" Neil exclaimed, looking up and smiling. "Now that you understand that I can't dance, I think I should stop now!" He jokingly turned to leave, but Rosie gripped his shoulder tightly.
"No, no, no," she said warningly, cocking her finger at him in playful disapproval. "You're not going to give up, you're going to keep trying until your feet bleed, do you hear me? Keep—AH!"
Rosie yelped in surprise as Neil grinned mischievously, grabbed her hand, and brought his hand over her head, causing her to twirl around in a circle.
After she had finished spinning in a circle, Rosie came to a stop, laughing and holding onto Neil's shoulder to steady herself.
"I'm guessing you liked that?" Neil asked, smirking, the redness that had overcome his face at one point now gone.
Rosie just kept laughing, smiling from ear to ear. "Hey, I'm no ballerina, but I'll admit that was fun," she said, slightly breathless from her previous laughter.
She looked up, still smiling. Neil chuckled and shook his head, his black curls flying around his face. Rosie just grinned, took a step towards him, stood on her tip-toes and gave him a light kiss on the cheek.
Neil stood there, feeling like someone just slapped him across the face. Had she really just done that?
Rosie smiled at him, then back away a little. "Well, nice to actually talk to you, Neil." Then, she walked to the other side of the room without another word and turned off the stereo, opening it to remove the CD inside and putting the CD in her bag.
"Wait," Neil said after her retreating back, where she was walking over to her dance bag. "Where are you going?"
"I have to go home now," Rosie said, grabbing her bag and slinging it over her shoulder. "It's getting late anyway." She walked towards the door and opened it to leave. But before she stepped outside, she turned around and said, "See you around, Neil. Nice talking to you."
After those final words and one wave of her hand, she was gone.
Slowly, after Neil's brain had begun to function correctly again, he found himself walking out of the room and into the hallway, back to filming lockers. But, this time, his mind was still full of thumping music and dancing, even though before that day, Neil didn't think he'd ever be interested in dancing.
But that was before he actually had a conversation with Rosie Martinez.